Kitesurfer to cross the English Channel

In September 2009, Andrew Ward, a kitesurfer from Poole in Dorset will be attempting to Cross the English Channel from Alderney to Poole.

To the organisers knowledge the Alderney to Poole route has never been attempted by a kitesurf before. The distance between the 2 points is just over 70 nautical miles, which will make it the longest English Channel crossing ever attempted for charity using a kite and board.

All Donations will go to the Special Boat Service Association (SBSA) Charity.

The kitesurfer will need a consistant force 5 wind for the duration of the challenge and can afford a small drop down to the top of a force 4 and if he holds on hard can continue in a force 6. The team will have an adviser who will monitor the forecast towards the end of August looking for the 1st opportunity in September to make the crossing.

Careful Nautical Planning is essential to ensure the Kite Surfer crosses the channel in as much of a straight line as natures waters allow. The plan is to cross as early in September as the wind forecast permits. Once a date is chosen they will calculate the rate and direction of the tidal streams which will form a basis for them to plan a departure time.

The safest time to cross is when the Channel tide is just changing from West to East. Careful Tidal planning will assist navigating across the 'Alderney race' where tidal currents are extremely strong.

So with this in mind and ensuring the Wind Direction is sufficiently and consistantly in the right direction (with some allowance of change) this certainly is a challenge which has many bridges to cross in order for it to be a success.

It will be necessary for the the rider and support craft to be aware of the location of shipping lanes as in conditions of large swell the tankers and ferries can appear very quickly and are not in a position to maneouvre out the way of the team.

The team will need to navigate through a shipping area as wide as 7 miles which will consist of Tankers heading east up the channel and then after another 5 or so miles come across another shipping area which again can be as wide as 7 miles consisting of Tankers heading west.

Close liason with HM Coastguard and the use of GPS will ensure safety is of paramount importance. Other safety considerations will need to be met such as life jackets, Mini flare rockets, Dry Suits, Sea-me active radar detector... and more!

The support Team for the Kite Surfer will consist of a Coxswain to pilot the RIB, 2 experienced kite handlers to assist in the event of rescue or replacing broken kit and a Camera person.

The person in charge on the day will be the Coxswain.


The Team advisor will monitor the wind towards the last week of August 2009 until the wind direction and speed required is forecasted. The Team coordinater will alert all the Support crew and riders and plans will be made for them to travel over the day before the planned crossing from Alderney to the UK island.

A South Westerly is the predicted wind direction for this crossing. It is predicted the crossing if successful could take anything from 6 to 8 hours.

Ruakaka beach

Even though it is a young sport Kiteboarders have been living and riding in the Ruakaka area since 2000. Over this time the number of riders has grown, but still is relatively small with 10 local riders and a similar number based in Whangarei that drive out when conditions are right.

Kiteboarding has a very low environmental impact; it uses very little equipment, doesn’t burn fuel and makes no noise.

Many of us choose this sport over the likes of wakeboarding or jet skiing for just these reasons. We also have little interaction with other beach users, as we require around 12knots of wind to start riding and prefer 18knots.

Most beach users will know it is very unpleasant to fish, swim or kayak on any beach that has a stiff on-shore breeze blowing. Ruakaka river mouth is a very special riding environment for kiteboarders, with the enclosed water way giving smooth water, the outer bar giving us clean waves all the while being open to the strong winds we enjoy.

This location is not just ‘some place to ride’ it is in fact a world class, best you can get type of location – not unlike Shipwreck bay in Ahipara is for surfers. However to Kiteboard at Ruakaka River mouth we require both a high tide and a moderate to strong Easterly wind.

In any given year the total number days Mother Nature gives us with just these right conditions are around 25. On these 25 days we will average 3 hours of ridable time before the tide drops. Given an average of 12 hours of daylight per day, 365 days in the year, kiteboarders can use this location less than 2% of the time. For the other 98% of the year we simply go to beaches better suited to other wind directions.

Usually the numbers of riders out at Ruakaka on any given E wind is 4-5, on weekends this sometimes rises to 10-12 but this is rare rather than the rule.

As a group Ruakaka kiteboarders are well aware of the importance of the Ruakaka estuary as a wildlife refuge, to this end we have put in place a set of guidelines since 2005 to protect this area, these include: - Stay off the sand dunes. - Rig up and land kites as close to the waters edge as possible. - Do not fly kites over the dunes or wildlife. - Keep your kite at 45degrees out to sea when walking up the beach. - Stay a safe distance from other beach users.

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IKA defines the World Kiteboarding Ranking

The current world ranking, or better said "virtual world ranking" is our approach to reflect competition kiteboarding results from last season, and to transform them into a fair ranking in 2009.

For this "virtual" ranking we took the overall ranking position of each rider in the KPWT and the PKRA rankings in each discipline, and scored them as follows:

- points for four freestlye super grand slams (factor 9) from both KPWT and PKRA rankings

- points for four racing grand slams (factor 4)

- points for two wave grand slams (factor 4)

- points for one speed grand slam (factor 4)

Due to the points model this resulted in the rankings for each discipline, and an overall ranking.

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